Friday, August 22, 2014

PH&F Trip--2014--Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire

This year, Bob Peak and I are traveling to three West African countries:  Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, and Ghana.  Bob, who is retired and has focussed much of his free time on rescuing wildlife for Pacific Wildlife Care, has met with me weekly during the past year to develop awareness of the difficulties cocoa farmers face eking out a living.  This spring, Bob decided to accompany me on this year's trip so he can sensitize himself to the issues and actually witness the plight of the cocoa farmers firsthand.

Earlier in the year, I had contracted with SanthaUSA to ship two Spectra40 melangeurs  from the factory in southern India via Mumbai-Joahnnisberg-Lagos and finally to their destinations, Accra and Abidjan.  The Accra machine was picked up by an assistant who is storing it until I arrive on Sept. 10.  The Abidjan machine is happily ensconced in David's factory in Depa, Cote d'Ivoire, located near the city of Issia (if that tells you anything!)

This trip is divided into four parts:

1.  Los Angeles/Istanbul.  We will fly nonstop from LA to Istanbul, Turkey, where we will stay two nights with my daughter, Juliet Layik and her husband, Cem.

2.  Week in Cameroon--August 24 to Sept. 2.  We will be meeting with interested parties regarding the establishment of a cocoa study center.  University students would come to the center and learn to make and market chocolate as well as to attend lectures on economics, history, and chocolate production at the nearby University of Buea.

3.  Week in Cote d'Ivoire--Sept. 2 to Sept. 10.  Bob and I are carrying more chocolate molds, chocolate wrapping foils, a used laptop and a camera in order to help expand the Depa business.  You can read about the Depa effort by clicking on last year's post.

4.  Week+ in Ebekawopa, Ghana--Sept. 10 to ~Sept. 21.  We are going to set up and use a mini-factory in Ebekawopa, Ghana.  The long-term goal is to set up a local chocolate economy while providing an internship experience for university students.  We are hoping to link to ProWorld, which has several internships established in the Cape Coast region.

5.  Conclusion of trip.  Bob will leave from Accra on Sept. 15 to fly to South Africa to visit a friend.  I will stay in Ebekawopa until the factory is up and running and we are producing our first chocolate.

PART ONE--48 hours in Istanbul

I think of Istanbul as my second favorite world city--after Paris.  It's beautiful, it's full of history, and Istanbul is full of people of numerous religions and cultures.  On the taxi ride from the airport, one first becomes aware of the city's rich past, passing remnants of the great Byzantine stone walls that dominate the shoreline.

From the 5th century (marking the collapse of the Western Roman Empire) to the 15th century (the rise of the Ottoman Empire), Istanbul was a crossroads of trade between the East and the West.  The Byzantines, literally the sequels to the Eastern Roman Empire, dominated the Eastern Mediterranean culturally, economically, and militarily.

Constantinople became Istanbul in 1453 when Mehmet II successfully lay siege to a city that smugly sat behind what it thought were impregnable defenses (Maginot Line, Great Wall of China).  But after a period of unsuccessful bombardment, Mehmet II had his forces lay greasy logs over the giant chains that spanned the Golden Horn and during the night, his ships entered the horn and bombarded the city until surrender.

The subsequent Ottoman empire was extensive and powerful and ruled this part of the Mediterranean until after WWI, when Ataturk converted the destroyed empire into modern, secular Turkey.  Today, the country is once again at a historical crossroads,  appearing as a sparkling example of multiculturalism while also showing signs of radical Islamization.  Meanwhile, the government has engaged in brutal repression of those who want to maintain a secular society while raiding the coffers of government and disappearing billions of dollars.

Despite all this, Hagia Sophia still remains a museum, no longer a mosque, and much of Ataturk's transition remains intact.  Istanbul is reminiscent of Spain's Andalusian period, when three Abrahamic religions coexisted in peace and the sciences and arts flourished.

Saturday, August 23

After enjoying a breakfast of Menemen, a soupy scrambled eggs with cheese and spicy sausage, we walked the length of Istiklal, past the famous stone tower, Galata, which was built by the Byzantines to watch for fires.  The first tower burned down as it was made of wood (the medium is the message).
Hagia Sophia, built as a Christian church during the time of Justinian in the 6th century, has withstood earthquakes and politicalquakes, including the transition from the Byzantines to the Ottomans in the 15th century.  About 30,000 people visit what was the largest church in the world.  Workers are busy scraping plaster applied to hide the original Christian figures, as the Koran forbids the depiction of the human body.  Ataturk, who championed a secular revolution, had the building converted into a museum, so now the gold foil covered tiles that dominate the ceiling artwork are being exposed.

Afterwards, we visited the blue mosque, whose tiles fostered the coining of the word, "turquoise."  On the way out, we tried a little Macun, a sugar syrup originally developed as a medicine but then ended up as a saccharine treat.

In the evening, we inspected the city from 38 floors up while sipping cocktails.  We then drove to the Asitane Ottoman Cuisine restaurant, located next to one of the few intact Byzantine churches, the Chora Church (which we did not have time to visit).  I particularly enjoyed lamb shank served in smoky eggplant puree in a crispy crust.  For dessert, I had a fruit salad with cubes of mastic custard, flavored with rose water and crunchy almonds and pistachios.  The lamb shank entree is in my top 5 most memorable lamb shank dishes.  Ditto the fruit salad, truly a symphony of flavors and textures.

Sunday, August 24

We started the day with a marvelous Turkish breakfast, complete with olives tomatoes and cucumbers, yogurt with cucumbers and dill, clotted cream with honey, breads, 5 kinds of cheeses.  Refreshing and healthful.

We walked toward the Golden Horn, where our Bosporus tour boat was leaving from.  On the way, we passed this mosque, located two blocks from Juliet and Cem’s  apartment.  A tiny park borders the mosque, with a walkway from which you can admire the Bosporus glinting in the sun and the faraway buildings of “Asia”, the rest of Turkey. 

Another short walk brought us to this cathouse, where we found two cuties enjoying their time in the sun while hornets buzzed about, keeping us from approaching too close (us being me, obviously)

We took a 1.5 hour ride up the Bosporus past the fort, and then turned around.  While the heat was almost unbearable in the city, a stiff wind off the Marmara Sea kept the ride quite pleasant.

Our plane left at 5:30 PM.  It arrived in Libreville, Gabon at 11 PM, then took off for Douala.  Libreville, the capital of Gabon, is right on the equator and Douala is several degrees north.  I sat next to a Libyan national who was returning from a vacation with his family;  he works for a consortium of oil companies drilling and extracting in Central Africa.

We arrived during a downpour, and the plane hit the runway a little hard.  Apparently earlier in  the day, Douala had experienced strong winds and rain, causing trees to break and collapse all over the city.  This tree met its demise right across from the Planet Hotel and workers spent much of the following day cutting the smaller limbs with machetes. 

Monday,  August 25, 2014

We woke up to a grey sky and many mosquitoes.  The Baptist Guest House costs only $25 per night.  The rooms are spacious and functional.  This is a view of the Woure river, only a couple hundred feet from us but separated from the river by warehouses, docks, and ocean-going ships. 

After breakfast, Kila came to pick us up.  We started walking in the direction of Bonanjo, the location of the Manga Bell palace, constructed for the King by the German colonialist regime in the late 19th century.  Halfway there, we were called back by Amy Banda of S-TV, whom Kila had contacted to interview us.  She conducted a half hour interview of Bob and me.  I talked about the importance of building local economy in order to free farmers from enslavement by their own government and by multinational corporations.  Bob talked about the Native American experience and how that can be used to free pygmies from becoming victims of deforestation..  She’s quite a character and I anticipate to get a copy of the finished product.

The interview made us hungry, so we walked over to a French-African restaurant just blocks away from the guesthouse.  I enjoyed a plate of tripe cooked with beans.  Totally delicious, although the tripe could have been cooked longer. 

Later in the afternoon, we were visited by Ernest Ehabe, who lived in the U.S. for years but moved back to Cameroon about 20 years ago.  He is a perfect example of a social entrepreneur.  He runs businesses to generate capital to help others start their own businesses.  He runs CADAC (Community Awareness Development A___ Cameroon), established to help pygmies find ways to stay in the forest.  Apparently with the massive deforestation occurring in Central Africa, pygmies are finding it harder to survive.

Ernest also runs Bread for Life, which brings medical doctors from the U.S. to do free medical work.  He flies frequently to the U.S. to give talks, especially in churches.

In late evening, we visited the Bonanjo district.  This is a WWI monument commemorating the soldiers who died liberating Cameroon from the Germans and giving it instead to the French.

This monument commemorates the French sacrifice to keep Cameroon in the fold.

The Bell Palace was built for the Bell family by the Germans.

A half year later, the son was beheaded by the German administration.  About 6 paintings commemorate 6 beheadings of freedom fighters—1 by the Germans and another 5 by the French.  The painting on the left is of the young Bell.

Tuesday, August 25, 2014

Pictures soon!  Just need to get on the road at this point….

This morning, we set out to purchase the tools that will be distributed to villages.  This time, because we are visiting a pygmy village, we have divided the tools into three piles.  We drove to the usual Lebanese store and purchased the following:

18 pairs of heavy duty boots ($17 each)
60 machetes
3 pickaxe heads
3 shovels
3 rolls of rope
3 hammers
3 rakes
1 case of notebooks for students

We loaded the car with these items and set off toward Buea.  It took about an hour of 10 mph driving to get out of the congested suburban areas and we arrived in Buea at the foot of the volcano at about 3 PM.  We ate lunch in a hotel built to serve governmental employees.  Because of the heavy cloud-cover, this is the best photo I was able to make of the volcano. 

Lunch was really excellent:  Okonghobong, which is made of chopped greens cooked with the insides of pumpkin seeds, dried fish, and dried beef.  The starch accompaniment was boiled African yam.

We devoured our lunches, as we had to be in Ekona at the center for research for a meeting with Dr. Etchu Kingsley, who has promised to work with me on developing a Memorandum of Understanding so we can move this project forward.  

Pictured is Dr. Kingsley and one of his collaborators, Njukeng Jetro Nkengufac.

We left Dr. Kingsley and drove into Limbe where we quickly visited the beach where the fishermen keep their boats.  There are a number of restaurants on the beach selling grilled freshly caught fish.

This picture shows looking out into the bay, directly at a great eyesore, a drilling platform.

We drove to the hotel, which is set on a hilltop, looking out over the ocean (left).

Wednesday, August 27

We had breakfast overlooking Limbe bay…

We drove straight up Mount Cameroon, the second highest mountain in Africa, which, like Mount Kilamanjaro, is an active volcano.  The slopes were covered with large tea farms.

We drove to the University of Buea, where we had an appointment with Dr. Chuyong.  We had a very pleasant discussion.  Dr. Chuyong informed me of a joint agreement between Bloomsburg University, PA and the University of Buea.  Every April, 30 students spend 2 weeks at the University of Buea.  We agreed that I would write up a Memorandum of Understanding, that PH&F would build a chocolate production facility at the Ekona Research Center in summer, 2015, and that the first use of the facility would be in April, 2016.

We drove around the volcano to visit Munyenge.  This takes about 3 hours, as the road is extremely bumpy and you can’t drive fast or your kidneys will turn to mush.  We arrived in Munyenge and had a short talk with the chief, letting him know about the cocoa study center in Ekona.

We drove back to our hotel in Buea.

Thursday, August 28

Today, we set out for Dschang, which is a 3-hour drive northwest of Buea.  We arrived at the university in the late morning, and we were fortunate to find Dr. Julius Tanka, who teaches a wonderful Appropriate Technologies course.

Dr. Tanka shows off his cocoa dryer.  He has built and installed 22 of them in 22 villages.  The Cameroonian government is particularly concerned about the reputation of Cameroonian cocoa, and wants to end the practice of drying beans using rainforest wood.

We ate lunch near the Museum of Civilizations, which is a Smithsonian quality museum of southern and northern civilizations in Cameroon.  Truly awe-inspiring!

We continued to Bamenda, which is the capital of the Northwest Region.  The road was atrocious.  As we drove down the escarpment, we climbed up a little mound overlooking the valley.  Getting up was easy, but I had to slide down on my butt, turning it an attractive red—similar to that of certain baboons.  Anyway, Kila and Bob are flashing the victory sign ala Richard Nixon (remember him?) 

We arrived at the Penn Pan Pacific Hotel in Bamenda, where Marcie who works for an NGO met us.  We enjoyed a meal that started with plantain soup and discussed the possibility of building a chocolate business in Esu, a town a few hundred miles away. 

Friday, August 29

Before leaving Bamenda, we took this picture of myself, Marcie, and Bob standing at the entrance of the hotel. 

We drove in the direction of Monatele, a village that we have visited for the past 3 years.  We stopped in a village on top of the escarpment to purchase some vegetables which Kila was going to bring to his mother, who lives in Yaounde (our final destination of the day).  While we waited for Kila to buy his vegetables, I took this picture of a fake musician, a man who sang completely off-tune and who had obviously put this instrument together.

We arrived in Monatele about 4 PM—with 2 hours of daylight left.  Before people gathered to greet us, I took this picture of cocoa drying on a mat. 

About 20 people gathered to hear our news.  

We enjoyed some palm wine, which has been stored in a bottle labeled, “Casanova”, which of course means “Neuhaus” in Italian. 

Donation of Solar Lights to three students by The Mermaid Islands Corporation. 

Donation of tools to the village of Monatele.

After enjoying a spectacular repast, which included some of the best grilled fish I have ever had, we drove back north to Yaounde, where we spent the night.  

Saturday, August 30

In the morning, we drove to Ernest Ehabe’s house to join in the birthday celebration of his son.  They sang at least four verses of the HB song.  One of them includes his child singing, with no trace of embarrassment whatsoever, a verse that proclaimed his age.  It was so-o-o charming.  There was absolutely no trace of self-consciousness.  Very impressive.

Using Ernest's car, we drove several hundred miles to the capital of the Eastern Region, Bertoua.  The hotel we stayed in had a very nice assortment of ebony furniture, including this throne with extensive inlays of shells.

Sunday, August 31

We drove East toward the border to visit the village of the Pygmies.  We turned off the pavement and drove into the bush.  As we approached our destination and came across this initial encampment of pygmies.

The fire structure, built to keep rain off the cooking fire.

This tire was hanging on a stick.  They light it toward evening to create a noxious smoke that chases away mosquitoes.

We continued down the road and reached a pygmy and non-pygmy encampment.  The main source of income here is cutting down the jungle.  The pygmies emerge because they are drawn to some of the amenities of civilization and also because their natural environment is being destroyed by those who are profiting from its destruction.  This pygmy house, made of sticks, leaves, an some of scrap wood left by the sawmill is open and you can see people inside cooking over a fire.

I walked around the encampment and found this house had been closed for privacy.

Here's a pygmy grandmother watching the younger generations.  Gorgeous.

Donation of Solar Lights to pygmy children by The Mermaid Islands Corporation.

Bob stands next to a young pygmy mother, who has a child on her back.

This young pygmy man shows us how to call certain animals.

Girl with bags of dried corn.  I suspect these were donated.

This is the germination area for tomato plants growing on Ernest Ehabe's 100 hectare farm.  It sits right next to the forest.   It's so exciting to stand among the tomato plants, listening to the animals of the forest.

We drove back to Yaounde, where we were to spend the night.  On the way, we had a little dinner, which consisted of grilled meat--topped with onions and grilled plantain.

Monday, September 1

We spent the morning at the Muna Foundation.  Kila, who knows everybody who is anybody, wanted us to discuss the possibility of the Muna Foundation putting together a little jingle promoting the cocoa study center.  Kila is ALWAYS thinking.

The foundation was started by Solomon Tandeng Muna.  This is the logo that is imprinted on the wall of the large, airy atrium.

The foundation director, grandson of Solomon Muna.

The foundation has the second largest collection of Cameroonian artifacts.

We drove back to Douala in the afternoon, arriving at the Baptist Guest House before dark.

Here is a map of Cameroon.  You can see the places we visited:  Douala, Buea, Dschang, Bamenda, Yaounde, Monatele, and Bertoua.

Tuesday, September 2
Today, we flew to Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire and checked into the Golden Hotel.

Wednesday, September 3

Mathurin and driver Sami arrived at 9 AM and we went downtown to change money with the black market folks.  The bank wanted a copy of my passport AND my visa.  We changed the money, like most crooks, in the stairwell of a building.  This and a trip to Novotel for croissant, coffee, and Internet (that works) took the entire morning.   After lunch, we set out to purchase tools.  This all  took most of the afternoon. 

We put all the boots on the roof of the car—all 75 pairs.

It took 3 1/2 hours to get to Yamoussoukro;  it was dark most of the way.  As they say--driving after dark in Africa is a recipe for doom.  However, I think daytime driving is also dangerous, just less so.  We got there about 9 PM.  Fortunately, we were able to find a very nice restaurant not far from the hotel.  The hotel, however, was a bit ratty;  Poor Bob hardly slept because of the moldy ceiling and the buzzing mosquitoes (each carrying its malarial gift).

Thursday, September 4

After breakfast, we dropped the car off to have the suspension worked on.  Even though the car cost $1400 to rent, it was a moving wreck, making all sorts of funny noises in the suspension.  This cost me $60 and of course was not picked up by the leasor since we had “loaded the car too much.”  BS (a nice way of saying merde--en francais) 

We took a taxi to the Basilica, which is the largest church in the world—larger than St. Peter’s in Rome.  It is said that the pope himself asked President Houphouët-Boigny to keep the roof lower than St. Peter’s.  HB obliged but then put a cupola on it that made it higher. Take that, Monsieur Pape. 

This picture compares the two.

The inside holds 18.000.  It’s like standing inside an enormous gem.

The cathedral is called Notre Dame de la Paix, so the symbol of peace is symbolized by the dove in the operculum.

We returned to the car repair place;  forsooth,  they hadn’t finished yet.  So we walked across the street to the Grand Mosque, which is attractive but not so grand as the basilica.

After the brief mosque visit, the mechanics still weren’t done, so I elected to repair something else--the zipper of my book bag   We sauntered a couple blocks in the tropical heat to this outdoor seamster who did a bang-up job while we waited under a shade tree.

Before leaving Yamoussoukro, we ate lunch.  Mathurin, our fearless leader, is enjoying some palm wine,  straight out of a transmission fluid bottle.  Welche win Geschmack1 

We drove for three hours to Issia, where we checked into our respective rooms, each in a separate house, all nestled at the foot of Le Rocher d'Issia.

Friday, September 5

We were to start the day with a big ceremony, including all four chiefs.  But before arriving, we purchased a propane tank plus burner for the chief.  Protocol is that you never enter a village without bringing a gift for the chief, in this case Chief Dédé, who is a very warm person.  He calls me djollo or “good luck.”  I wonder why...

We walked into the ceremony and spent about 5 minutes shaking hands.  Pictured is David (in the red shirt).

Since Bob was the new guy, he got the customary honorable dress. 

And here he is, exerting his chiefly power.  As usual, Bob talked about being an Osage and Cherokee and he told people that his name is Meeteeyonka, for “He who follows the sacred sun.” 

After the ceremony, we visited the village’s chocolate business, which is run by David Zigro, the youngest brother of Chief Dédé.  We initially established the chocolate business in the building that houses the rice huller.  However, because of the rice dust, this proved to be impractical.  So David built this house.

The $3500 machine that I shipped in June.  It cost another $3500 to get it out of the airport, as there were 8 sets of hands to be lined with silver.  Some people call that corruption.  According to the internet, Côte d’Ivoire’s tariffs are supposed to be 15% of value, not 100%;  math is an inexact science, at least for some.

We gave David a Mac laptop in order to write his reports and email them to me.

I showed David how to clean the machine with hot water and to use the cleaning water to make hot cocoa.  We played around with flavors such as coffee, pepper, and vanilla.  Everyone liked it.  Hot cocoa is a natural, as Nestle distributes its popular Milo, a cocoa beverage that contains added nutrients.  

We stopped at the rice hulling operation to marvel at an entire field of rice hulls, about 3 inches deep;  this has become a very cushy soccer field for the young lads, who play barefoot.  

While there, a Green Mamba, the reason cocoa farmers wear boots, made an appearance, crawling across the rice hulls in search of a tasty reptile that was crawling up the wall..  David quickly killed it.  Its bite is often lethal.

Saturday, September 6

Today, we visited two villages—Pezoan and Zereguhe.  There couldn’t be two villages more different.  Pezoan was cautiously receptive.  The chief was angry at us for building the rice hulling and chocolate businesses in Depa, which is just down the road.  We exchanged greetings but no beverages were offered until we assured them that they would get some sort of business next year.

Initial, frosty reception.

Donation of solar lights by the Mermaid Islands Corporation. 

Donation of tools 

After assuring the chief of Pezoan that he will get something next year, we bade farewell to the chief and to the village.  

As we drove back into Issia, I took this picture of palm oil waiting to be shipped to the port.
In the afternoon, we drove to Zereguhe, which is just a few miles away.  The people of Zereguhe are noticeably poorer than the inhabitants of Pezoan.  The chief is very kind, very nice.  Bob and I swore that we would be sure to help Zerreguhe before Pezoan.  If possible, we will purchase a motorcycle-wagon for taking products such as rice to market or to be hulled.

The chief of Zereguhe.  

Lights donation to young students by the Mermaid Islands Corporation.  

Donation of tools to the people of Zereguhe. 

Left--Zereguhe gave us this chicken, which we had for dinner several days later. 

A rubber ball made from rubber sap or latex.

 As we left, I took this picture of a farmer lighting the “weeds” on fire.  This keeps the snakes away by depriving them of habitat.  The farmer obliged by dancing for my photos.

In the evening, we stopped by Issia’s only supermarket.  I picked up a typical northern beverage (enjoyed by the Dioula, northerners who moved south.)  Called Dégué, it’s a pleasantly sour milk beverage with added millet.

Sunday, September 7

Today, we drove north to Daloa.  On the way,  we visited the “Monkey Village”, also called Gbeutitabia.  The story is there are lots of monkeys because in the 19th century, when the French were forcing males to work for free several days a month (forced labor system, a type of slavery), a doctor in the village prepared a potion to convert his family into monkeys.  However, he forgot to prepare the counter potion, so they have remained as such.

Bob feeding one of the monkeys.  I kept eating mine, as I love West African bananas.  They are much sweeter and smoother than the bananas we purchase from Central America (the so-called Cavendish).  

One of the village women showed us how they gather rice before drying.

We drove to Broguhe, a village we have been visiting since 2006.  This is the sewing room we built several years ago.  It’s part of the chief’s home;  the chief’s main wife teaches young women how to sew. 

Donation of tools to the village of Broguhe

Donation of solar lights by the Mermaid Island Corporation to three students. 

We drove from Daloa/Broguhe back to Issia and re-entered Depa, as I had promised to show David how to wrap bars.  We had brought some bar molds so he can sell bars and disks.

On our way back into the village, I took this picture of children threshing the rice in order to remove the hull fragments (Right).

The rice huller is going gangbusters.

We joined Chief Dédé for a delicious dinner.  While waiting, Bob enjoyed playing with the children. 

After dinner, I showed David how to wrap bars. 

Monday, September 8

Today we had planned to visit two more villages, Djahakro and Tetia.  Before breakfast, Bob and I climbed the Issia rock.  It’s maybe 400 feet high, with one face pretty bare and the other covered with forest.  Cattle hang out on the rock, so one has to watch where one walks.  The rock is a granitic inclusion similar to the Ayers Rock of Australia.  The surrounding softer, sedimentary rock wore away.
Going up toward the water tower.

A rainforest tree à la Japonaise—small in stature because there’s no topsoil.  

View of Issia from the top.  Hotel is in the center.

Our first village visit was Djahakro, located about 5 miles on mucky dirt road pitted with mudholes.  At one point, our van bottomed out on the mid ridge between two puddles, the wheels spinning uselessly in the water.  We tried pushing the car backwards, but that didn’t work.  Fortunately, forwards worked.  From then on, we insisted that the driver speed up before each depression; we never got stuck again.

Formalities begin: sharing of the palm wine.  The chief is sitting off to my left.  

Once again, we distributed three lights from the Mermaid Islands Corporation. 

Our donation of tools to the village.

Cocoa beans fermenting.  This is a particularly bad job, as the beans have not been pulled apart, so there’s a lot of placental tissue connected to them. 

Cocoa beans drying.  The chicken obviously is finding his lunch. 

We drove back over the mucky road to Tetia, which was awaiting our arrival.  You can see a big jug of palm wine.  

The young man who is crouched in front of it was extremely precise in performing the customary ritual.

Other side of the meeting structure..

Our donation to Tetia

The customary Mermaid Islands Corporation donation of solar lights to students.

Tuesday, September 9

Today, we drove back to Abidjan.  We started the trip by visiting the Prefet of Issia—essentially the governor of the region.  He gave us a little talk about the importance of not losing heart, that all great ideas began small.  He gave the example of an agricultural bank, COOPEC that started very small in Canada and eventually became a worldwide institution. 

Before we set out, we visited the one supermarket (Lebanese owned) and I took this picture of Obama Whiskey.  Whiskey, rum, soft drinks, palm wine, palm liquor, and water are the beverages most commonly served when you visit a village. 

We arrived back at the Golden Hotel  at dusk.

Wednesday, September 10

In the morning, we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral and Hotel Ivoire.  Both properties were built in the 80s, when the Ivoirian economy was riding high.  Hotel Ivoire was built to showcase the power of the Ivoirian economy.  It is situated in Cocody, looking across the lagoon toward downtown, called le plateau.  The lagoon was formerly quite pretty, but has silted up as the city's raw sewage has poured into it for decades.

Before we started out, I took this picture of Mathurin with three of his children and Bob.

Landscaping just outside the casino that is part of the Hotel Ivoire property.

Front desk of the Hotel Ivoire.

The cathedral was getting a total facelift, so we couldn’t enter it.  My mother and I attended a service there in 2012.  Designed by an Italian architect, there isn’t a straight line on the entire property.  

The large structure at the back represents Christ holding out his arms to welcome new believers. 

We took an Emirates Air flight to Accra, where Alex Mensah met us at the airport.